Mahogany Storm Water Wetland self-guided walk
Welcome to Mahogany!
This is a self-guided walk around the storm water pond in one of Calgary’s newest communities. This area has been broken down into two loops that you can complete on your own time and pace. Both loop over a bridge near the center of the wetlands and can be done individually or grouped together as one long 3.5km hike.
In addition to some beautiful wetland sights, this storm water pond offers unique sighting opportunities for some of the amazing birds that call Calgary home. At different times of year you will find a large population of songbirds and water fowl, shoreline Great Blue Herons wade through shallow water and American Pelicans may be seen gliding across the pond. Keep your eyes open and bring a set of binoculars with you to get the best experience out of this walk.
These storm water ponds are not just great habitat for wildlife, but also an excellent environment for cleaning and controlling water. The wetlands can hold a great deal of water, reducing the chance of flooding along the river. As well the ability to slow and filter water means that the water flowing downstream of the wetland is far cleaner than what enters the wetland.
There are several points at which you can enter this trail system, marked in orange on the map. This guide starts at the NW trail head and follows the numbers around, but you can start at any section and make your way along the pathways.
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Stop 1: Start (NW pathway down to the storm pond)
There are four little pathways that lead right down to the wetland. This first one brings you down to the wetland surrounded by a thick gathering of sedges and cattails. In late spring and early summer whole flocks of Red Wing Blackbirds can be found in this area. The males are particularly striking with their red wing markings over their black feathers. These birds hide their nests among the shoreline plants, so be careful to stay on the paths.
Carry on along the pathway East. You will see a large bridge
Stop 2: Large bridge
Not only does this bridge create a convenient path to make this pathway system into a couple of loops, it also provides a great viewing location to watch for water fowl moving through the waters. At this point you can either cross the bridge, making your walk into a shorter loop, or continue along the shoreline on a longer loop.
Either cross the bridge and continue to stop 3, or continue along the loop to stop 6
Stop 3: A little turn to your right after the bridge to this amphitheater
Just after you cross the bridge take the little path that leads to your right and you will find yourself in a beautiful little amphitheater. A great place to stop for a snack and watch the birds move across the water.
Go back up to the trail and loop right along the South side of the trail.
Stop 4: South side of the trail
This trail is pretty open as it moves along the south side of the pond. That means it’s an excellent time to keep an eye open for birds, and even break out the binoculars. There are some fairly unique birds that call this wetland home, so keep an eye open for them. One of the largest is the American white pelican.
Continue along the pond side until the pathway meets an intersection down towards the water.
Stop 5: Intersection leading down towards the water
As you come around the south end of the pond and are just about ready to head north, stop along this side path and take in the view stretching out ahead of you. Here sedges and shrubs are mixed in together, providing a great habitat for the birds you’ve seen through your hike.
Cattails are abundant in this park and you will pass by them often as you make your way around the pond. These distinctive round, brown fruiting spikes are common through our wetlands. The spikes are excellent food sources while the tough, green leaves provide excellent shelter and habitat.
Continue North along the sidewalk and back down to the park for a stop at a large sitting area.
Stop 6: Large sitting area
This comfortable sitting area sits looking over a large section of the wetland. From its viewing area you can look out and see just how much is going on in the wetland. Watch as the red winged blackbirds flitter through the shoreline sedges or a great blue heron wades through the shallows.
This is an excellent point to stop, relax, and look out over the pond.
If you’ve been following along this is also the last point on the first loop of the trail. If you started from a different trail head than point 1 feel free to carry on or join the other loop to see more of this park.
Head north of the bridge following the pathway
Stop 7: Northern part of the pathway
The northern part of this walkway is longer, about 2 Km in length. As you continue along you will notice how different this location can be on either side of the pathway. Looking north on your left hand side are manicured back yards and cut grass. On your right is wild tangles of prairie grass and shrubs, leading down to sedges at the edge of the wetland. These different landscapes provide habitat and resources for many different types of wildlife that call the wetland their home.
Turn East at the junction and follow this short path down to the waters edge
Stop 8: Short path down to the water's edge
Where this pathway meets the water there is a collection of dense shrubs beside you. Listen and look closely for songbirds that are moving through the branches and along the sedges at the edge of the pond. The small spaces provided by the branches provide excellent nesting and safe areas for smaller birds to find shelter. Keep an eye open for large birds as well both on the shore line and in the air above you.
Follow the path along as it moves East
Stop 9: Continuing on the path along as it moves East
The land here opens up on either side as the pathway momentarily moves away from the wetland. Here rich grasslands are fed by the nutrients and water of the storm pond system. All types of animals call environments like this home, though that grass makes it difficult for even a trained eye to find wildlife moving through its shelter.
The trail meets a sidewalk, follow the sidewalk South and then turn west, following the path back to the wetland and then down the side path to the waters edge
Stop 10: Side path to the water's edge
Here the sedges are thick and the water is calm. This is a quiet pool where you can watch ducks and other water birds swim about. If you are here at the right time of year this is a great location to watch young birds learn how to swim for the first time. This section lies at the far end of the wetland and the water moves slowly here before it exits the storm water pond system.
Follow the trail west
Stop 11: Follow the trail west
Wetlands provide for healthy ecosystems for many types of plant. Here a thriving copse of trembling aspen and shrubs provide excellent habitat. As you walk west along this pathway towards the bridge you will have an excellent opportunity to see different species of birds that call this wetland home.
Look close to the shoreline in many of these places, and you might be fortunate enough to see one of the largest shoreline birds in Calgary, a great blue heron, as it wades through the sedges looking for food.
From here the trail meets up with the other loop and you have the option to cross the bridge or carry on south around the wetland if you have not already. Congratulations on hiking this beautiful trail. Hopefully you have had a chance to experience some of Calgary’s more unique bird species and enjoy a relaxing walk around one our of wetland ecosystems.